by: Josh Caballero
Everyone likes to feel included. Whether it’s being a part of the team or just being in the know for an inside joke, we all enjoy when we’re a part of something. But sometimes, being a part of something is about more than just belonging, it’s about having a voice in the process.
A few months ago, a new sign popped up in the neighborhood that made several residents feel like they weren’t a part of important decisions being made in their community. The sign read 18th Street Liquor Store and for many residents, seeing this felt like years of previous efforts to improve their neighborhood were erased by a single crane lifting the sign upon the new storefront. Perhaps underscoring this even more was the fact that residents were not informed about the new development. There wasn’t a public notification sent out, there was no warning from the City, or any indication of what the business might be. Residents were excluded from the decision-making process.
However, one thing I’ve learned from residents in North Waco, is that they continuously show up for one another and their community. Almost immediately after the sign went up, we started receiving calls and emails at our office from residents raising concerns about the new development. After hosting a zoom meeting with over a dozen residents, it became clear that they wanted to let their voices be heard. They began a letter writing campaign to let TABC know about their concerns surrounding the new store and reached out to their neighbors to do the same. They reached out to city officials and their city council representative to express their concerns about the notification process. Since then, over 30 letters from residents have been sent to the local TABC office, editorials have been written in the paper, and the City has implemented a new process to ensure residents are notified of development like this in the future and are allowed an opportunity to have their voices heard.
This is what it looks like for neighbors to work together to raise their voices. This is what it means to belong to a community.